Second to the skin, the liver is the largest organ in the body and plays a vital role in digestion, distribution of nutrients and the removal of toxins from the body. While the conventional Western medical treatment for liver disease frequently emphasizes abstinence from alcohol, weight loss, nutrition therapy and surgery or transplant when warranted, both LiverCare and milk thistle are well-known herbal remedies that may be used alone or in concert with other treatment plans. Always consult with a health care professional before using either product to treat a liver disorder.
Known internationally as Liv.52, LiverCare is an Ayurvedic medicine commonly prescribed for the treatment of viral hepatitis, early cirrhosis and alcoholic liver disease. Ayurveda is an herbal-based medicine practiced in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka for thousands of years. According to the manufacturer label, LiverCare contains tamarisk, chicory seed, yarrow and caper bush root. Consult with your primary care physician about the proper dose for your condition.
A member of the daisy family and native to the Mediterranean, milk thistle is a thorny, flowering plant that has been used to treat liver disorders for more than 2,000 years. Yet only within the past 50 years have researchers isolated the plant's core ingredient, silymarin, a flavenoid with antioxidant properties that may also help the liver to repair itself through the regeneration of new cells. As of 2011, herbalists, homeopathic practitioners and the German Commission E recommend the use of milk thistle for liver disease.
According to research published in the "Indian Medical Journal," the symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis improved following 8 weeks of treatment with Liv.52 DS, a double strength pharmaceutical grade supplement available in liquid or tablet form. While limited evidence supports the use of milk thistle for chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, studies are inconclusive and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not approve of the use of milk thistle for the treatment of any medical condition.
Although the efficacy of medicinal herbs is documented, since the 20th-century discovery of penicillin, conventional Western medicine tends towards the pharmaceutical medical model. In contrast, Ayurvedic medicine is a holistic model of medicine that emphasizes a healthy lifestyle and supporting herbal remedies as a way to good health. As with all medicine, there is always a risk of adverse reactions or serious side effects from using milk thistle or LiverCare in concert with other medications.
- The University of Chicago Medical Center: Liver Conditions & Treatments
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Milk Thistle
- Mayo Clinic: Milk Thistle – Silybum Marianum
- Himalaya Herbal Healthcare: LIv.52
- Indian Medical Journal; Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Liv.52 DS Tablets in Alcoholic Hepatitis; Arun Mahto et.al; May 2009
- National Cancer Institute: Questions and Answers About Milk Thistle